Mhenlo had been slightly surprised to see Cynn break down shortly after the King called the audience closed in order to call the Lords and Dukes of Ascalon together to discuss the news Vekk had brought from underneath their feet.
His wife was normally so flippantly cavalier about things, and even when something did effect her, she hid it well. So, when she followed her emotional catharsis with a swift dash down the halls of Rin’s palace, he was so taken aback that he didn’t respond as quickly as he probably should have.
That caused him to momentarily lose sight of his dear elementalist, eventually finding her once again with the help of several palace guards who helpfully pointed the way. She had finally stopped in the east wing, at an exterior hall that faced where the sun had just set, bringing with it the dusk of approaching night.
“Cynn…” Mhenlo began warily. He knew how violently emotional some women could get during pregnancy, and had to admit he had a slight apprehension about the wrath that could be unleashed within his occasionally volatile wife.
She didn’t look at him, her eyes cast downward to where sky met land at the horizon. “I remember the first time in my life the king came to Surmia. I don’t think in the fifteen years from that point, he ever really changed in my eyes. I guess… I guess he was immortal to me or something.”
Cynn choked back a sob, “But… to see him so frail… so weak… I guess I never realized that’s the sort of thing that happens… when you get… old.”
Mhenlo’s arm worked around the sorrowed elementalist as she continued to ramble, “Is our child one day going to look at me… old and wrinkled and weak and pitiful? What is he or she going to think when that day comes? When I’m old and about to die?”
“Our child will think that he or she had a lucky life.” Mhenlo answered. “Age and death happen; and they happen to everyone.” His mouth then tugged upward, “Is that what was bothering you? That one day you’ll look old?”
Cynn huffed. “And what about it? Maybe I don’t want to look like some dehydrated fruit.”
Mhenlo gently cupped her cheek. “I’m afraid that’s rather inevitable, my love. But it won’t change how I feel about you.”
“Sure it will.” Cynn glowered. “You’ll just be so worn down yourself that you won’t care.”
The monk gently kissed the side of her mouth. “Well, I suppose we shall see about that, shall we?”
* * * * *
“You’re certain about this, Vekk?” Devona asked warily, “I do not want the king’s hopes raised over nothing.”
The warrior and the Asuran Elementalist were just outside the now closed doors of the throne room, Devona deciding not to wait any further before beginning her own private interrogation.
“I’m well familiar with Coran’s voice, bookah.” Vekk replied. “And the other Asurans would never have acknowledged any other human as running Atal Ra. Don’t worry, Devona, your prince was alive and well as late as one week prior when we received the message in Rata Sum.”
With a smug grin, he added, “And why do I get the feeling the king’s hopes is secondary in your mind?”
“I’m of secondary mind to throttle you, midget.” Devona snarled, “And let me promise you that this better not be some trick to get humans to do your dirty work for you. If it proves to be, you better pray the king’s men find you before I do.”
“My father was fond of that trick, a trait I do not share.” Vekk responded, his tone grave. “I would recommend you don’t group me with my kin’s somewhat… delegating manner. I personally find such tactics insulting, for both parties involved. It implies us Asura are incapable of handling our own tasks, which reflects poorly on how we’ve survived long before we approached the surface world.”
Devona blinked, as if she was finally coming to grip with Vekk’s news. “Coran… really is down there.”
“I’m glad you’re catching up.” Vekk droned. “For the last forsaken time; yes, Prince Coran really did survive all these years. Yes, he really lives among my people in Atal Ra. I don’t know how many more times I should have to explain all these things.”
“Ascalon has been a land without hope for some time.” Aidan noted, slipping into the discussion from behind Devona. “Even if just a twinkle, the idea that royal line continues offers some small degree of hope.”
Vekk’s eyes turned up curiously towards the ranger. “Well, I suppose we’ll see about that…”
* * * * *
It had seemed like just yesterday that Vekk had delivered the news that Coran still lived when the Asura led the massive drilling device they would use to bore into the Atal Ra chamber while the Ascalon Guard stood ready to follow and assist in securing the area.
Wait… that had been yesterday.
Normally known for it’s degree of gridlock in making any decision, the Dukes and Lords of Ascalon immediately gave their blessing and whatever manpower they could to King Adelbern, and the moment that the king declared the Asura could proceed with their plan, the machinating species was wheeling in bits and pieces of the drill and various other devices that served no discernable purpose save to them.
The Asura had also worked tirelessly through the previous night to bring the drill to “operational status”, much to the dismay of the populous of Ascalon City, which was less than one mile from the proposed site for the drilling. Devona felt they really didn’t have much room to complain… after all, they hadn’t been a mere hundred feet from the non-stop construction.
So why was she so energized? Devona had to fight the urge to smack a few Asuran heads together and order them to get that spiraling mess of metal digging into the earth. Good grief… she should not be acting this way. Even if Prince Coran still lived… all that was years ago… hell, she might not even recognize him.
She sighed. Of course she’d recognize him. He’d be like Norn standing in a group of dwarves… it’d be rather obvious. But still… eight years… would Coran even remotely resemble the man just into adulthood that she remembered? And why did it even matter? Gods save her, her thoughts were running wild like she was a teenager again.
“Alright, at the ready, ladies and gentlemen, we’re starting up the drill.” Vekk declared, his voice carrying surprisingly well for such a small frame. “Keep twenty meters back at all times to let debris settle, but other than that, be prepared to come out swinging the moment we enter the chamber. There’s no telling what’ll be waiting for us.”
Devona allowed that order to clear her head. Finally, something she understood, something that wasn’t confusing, something that didn’t require deep introspection and exploring supposedly long dead feelings. Idiot, meet hammer. Hammer, idiot. Simple, concise, and clear…
… She liked that.